Does 1 Timothy 2:12 really forbid all kinds of teaching and speaking by women in the church? If the Adventist Church took Paul’s statement literally, “I permit no woman to teach . . . she is to keep silent,” following it would cripple us, since we use the talents of women so heavily in Sabbath School and in other teaching and speaking ministries.

The Bible is clear that in Paul’s ministry women were not expected to be totally silent. They prayed, prophesied, and exercised an appropriate teaching ministry (1 Corinthians 11:5; Acts 18:26; Philippians 4:3; Romans 16:12; Titus 2:3, 4) that Paul encouraged. The nature of the teaching forbidden to women in 1 Timothy 2:12 is the authoritative teaching restricted to the pastor, the elder-overseer of the congregation. This conclusion is supported both by the meaning of the parallelism (“or to have authority over men,” v. 12) and by the use of the verb “to teach” and of the noun “teaching” in Paul’s writings, especially in his letters to Timothy.

Paul’s letters to Timothy present the teaching ministry as a governing function performed by Paul himself, by Timothy, or by other appointed elder-overseers of the congregation (1 Timothy 2:7; 3:2; 5:17; 2 Timothy 1:11; 2:2). Paul charges Timothy to “command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:11), “take heed to yourself and to your teaching” (4:16), “teach and urge these duties” (6:2), “preach the Word . . . in teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

In light of the restrictive use of the words “to teach” and “teaching” in these letters, it is reasonable to conclude that the teaching forbidden to women is the authoritative teaching done by elder-overseers.

– Adventist Affirm, Answers to Questions about Women’s Ordination – Pauline Passages about the Role of Women

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